Review: Abigail's Party @ New Theatre
Abigail's Party is very much of its time. It being set in the 1970s.
Mike Leigh knows how to get under the skin of his topics. His use of improvisation with actors is legendary. He would observe what they come up with, pick what he liked best out of the many sessions and transform it into his plays and films (Secrets & Lies is a great watch). This must be where the last part of this story comes from. It's just so unexpected.
Here the party in question is that of Susan's daughter. I always assumed it was the name of the host for the party we see, but no. We never see Abigail, instead we have the party of the grown ups. Beverly has invited her neighbours round for a little do. Through British middle class notions and likes, the evening is filled with bizarre events via the quirkiness of the characters.
As funny as this is, I also at times found it jarringly depressing. We have a couple that join the party, Angela and Tony, whose marriage is definitely dead in the water. The latter character played by Samuel James with some of his mannerisms and attitude, reminded me of my own brother (this isn't a good thing). Looking like a vacant Leigh Halfpenny, he is clearly fed up with this girl and is all over the host Beverly (Hannah Waterman) with lustful intentions.
The set is the 70s to a tee. Be it the dreadful wallpaper and furniture that looks like it could easily break, it was a decade that fashion seemed to have forgotten about. The music is also vital. The record player and Beverly's song choices are in defiance of her husband, Laurence played by Martin Marquez. He is the complete opposite of his wife. It's no wonder wife-swapping was all the rage back then if men found women to be their partners, who had nothing in common.
A decent night of comedy.